Hagedorn, Frederic

, a celebrated German poet of the last century, was born at Hamburgh in 1708. His father was minister from the king of Denmark to the circles of Lower Saxony, a well informed man, who associated with men of letters, and was capable of giving a direction to his son’s studies suitable to his genius. By various misfortunes, however, he lost his property, and died when our poet was only fourteen, and very ill provided for the liberal education which his father intended. His mother endeavoured to make up this loss by placing him at a college at Hamburgh, where, having previously imbibed a taste for poetry, he read the ancient as well a* the modern poets with eagerness and assiduity. Without the help of a master, or the salutary aid of criticism, he endeavoured to draw from his own stock the power of dissipating the fogs of dulness in the north, as Haller had done in the south of Germany. In 1728 or 1729, he published a small collection of poems, which have many marks of youth, and though his versification is free, and his language often very pure, the thoughts are frequently cold, and the expression too concise. In subjects which require little taste and philosophy, he has succeeded better than in works of sentiment and imagination. Of his taste at this time, he has given a bad specimen in his satire entitled “The Poet,” in which he puts Pietsch by the side of Virgil.

About this time (1729), he came to London with the Danish ambassador, baron Stoelenthal, and here he composed some of his most beautiful odes, and his best songs. In 1733 he was appointed secretary of the English factory at Hamburgh, which united him with our countrymen, whom he always esteemed. In 1734 he married the daughter of an English taylor, of the name of Butler, a step which does not seem to have added to his happiness. In 1738 he published the first volume of his “Fables,” an original work, which contributed much to his reputation. In 1740, he composed the beautiful satire of “The Philosopher;” in 1741, the sublime picture of the “Sage;” in 1742, the Universal Prayer, from the Paraphrase of Pope; and, in 1743, his celebrated poem on “Happiness.” This last piece is equally favourable to his opinions and his | poetical talents. His modest muse does not succeed in sublime descriptions, or the dithirambic flights: it has more of the elegance that pleases, than the splendour that dazzles; more Socratic wisdom, than oriental sublimity. His Moral Poems are like the Sermones of Horace. His “Considerations on some of the Attributes of God” contains the sublimest passages of Scripture “The Prattler” is a dialogue full of familiar descriptions of human life */ The Letter to a Friend“is an instructive commentary on the” Nil Adrnirari" of Horace. Various other pieces followed; but, in 1750, he first excited the gaiety of his nation, by mixing sports and graces with the solemn poetry of the Germans. His odes and songs are highly pleasing. Nature, sprightliness, simplicity, enthusiasm, and harmony, unite to render them seductive: for spirit and elegance, he may be said to resemble our own Prior.

The second edition of his “Moral Poems” appeared in 1752, with a considerable supplement, and many new epigrams. In 1754, was published an enlarged edition of his songs, with a translation of two discourses, on the songs of the Greeks, by Ebert. In this year he died of a dropsy, aged only forty-seven. His works have gone through so many editions, that they may be considered as perpetuating his reputation, and placing him among the standard poets of his country. He had a brother, Christian Lewis Hagedorn, who was born at Hamburgh in 1717, and died at Dresden in 1780, counsellor of legation and director of the academy of arts in Saxony. He wrote a work entitled “Meditations on Painting,” one of the few which the Germans think have not been equalled by their neighbours “Lettre a un Amateur de Peinture,1755, and many pieces in the Leipsic Journal entitled “The Library of the Fine Arts,” to the progress of which arts in Saxony he contributed greatly. 1

1 Bilduise, &c. Portraits of Illustrious Germans, from Crit, Rev, vol. XI. N.S, ~Maty’s Review, vol. VIII. p. 102^